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Weather Service Confirms Tornado Touchdown Upstate

AMSTERDAM, NY (AP) - A tornado that caused property damage near the state capital, Albany, was spawned in a string of violent thunderstorms a week after Tropical Storm Irene brought destructive flooding to the region.

The tornado was about a half-mile wide and on the ground for more than 10 minutes Sunday evening, said Steve DiRienzo, a National Weather Service meteorologist who assessed the damage Monday. Amateur video posted online shows a dark funnel cloud crossing the New York Thruway, where it knocked down trees.

DiRienzo said the tornado hit around 5:20 p.m. and traveled east about 4 miles along the Mohawk River, from the town of Amsterdam into Schenectady County's hilly West Glenville. Estimates of wind speeds weren't immediately available, he said. But trees and power lines were knocked down, parts of some roofs and pieces of siding were torn off and windows were blown out. There were no reports of serious injuries.

Amsterdam Town Supervisor Tom DiMezza said it could have been "a lot worse.''

"There's sections where trees fell between homes and missed both houses. Huge trees,'' DiMezza said.

He said 30 to 40 homes and businesses had damage.

"After the tropical storm, we were just getting things cleaned up, and this happens,'' said DiMezza, who declared a state of emergency in the town.

He said 39 National Grid utility crews were working to restore power, particularly in the hard-hit Cranesville neighborhood. The utility reported about 300 customers in the immediate area still without electricity Monday afternoon.

Extra state police and some members of the National Guard, including a military police unit, were dispatched to help with traffic control, DiMezza said.

Most of the damage was in Montgomery County, already eligible for federal disaster assistance after Irene.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

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